74 dead in Ethiopian oil field attack
Rebels take responsibility for raid at Chinese-run firm near Somali border
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia - Gunmen raided a Chinese-run oil field near the
Somali border on Tuesday, killing 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese
workers, an official of the Chinese company said. An ethnic Somali
rebel group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Seven Chinese workers were kidnapped in the morning attack at the oil
installation in a disputed region of eastern Ethiopia, said Xu Shuang,
the general manager of Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau.
China has increased its presence in Africa in recent years in a hunt
for oil and other natural resources to feed its rapidly growing
economy. Its forays into areas considered politically unstable,
however, has exposed Chinese workers to attacks.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front said in a statement sent to the
Associated Press they had launched "military operations against units
of the Ethiopian armed forces guarding an oil exploration site," in
the east of the country.
The rebel group, which is fighting a low-level insurgency with the aim
of creating an independent state for ethnic Somalis, warned last year
that any investment in the Ogaden area that also benefited the
Ethiopian government "would not be tolerated."
Somalia lost control of the region in a war in 1977. The rebel group
also has been fighting Ethiopian troops inside Somalia, where Ethiopia
has been backing the government in crushing an Islamic movement and
re-establishing control over the country.
In Nigeria, armed militants seeking a greater share of that country's
oil wealth kidnapped nine Chinese oil workers in January, and two more
in March. Two were still being held, though hostages are normally
released unharmed in Nigeria, after a ransom is paid.
Also in March in Nigeria, five Chinese telecommunications workers were
abducted for two weeks.
Somalia facing humanitarian crisis as hundreds of thousands flee capital
By Salad Duhul and Elizabeth A. Kennedy, Associated Press Writers
24 April 2007
There are no more hospital beds available in this bloodstained
capital, and barely enough bandages to patch up the wounded. Even the
bottles of medicine are running dry.
But still the patients keep pouring in - and they are the lucky ones,
having survived another day of gunfire and mortar shells as Islamic
insurgents battle troops allied to Somalia's fragile government.
"Even the shades of the trees are occupied at this point," Dahir
Dhere, director of Medina Hospital, the largest health facility in
Mogadishu, said yesterday. "We are overwhelmed."
Battles rocked Mogadishu for the sixth straight day Monday as Somalia
heads toward one of the worst humanitarian crises in its history, with
civilians getting slaughtered in the crossfire. A local human rights
group put the death toll at 1,000 over just four days earlier this
month, and more than 250 have been killed in the past six days.
More than 320,000 of Mogadishu's 2 million residents have fled since
heavy fighting started in February.
Ahmed Mohamed, 32, was not one of them. A mortar shell hit him over
the weekend, crushing his right leg.
"The doctors told me I would die unless they cut off my leg," Mohamed
said, tears streaming down his face in the city's Keysaney Hospital,
which was packed beyond capacity with nearly 200 people. "So I have to
let them do it."
Somalia Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi said Monday his interim
government was winning the battle against the insurgents, but called
for greater support from the international community.
"If we do not get international support the war may spread throughout
the region and Africa," Gedi said. "These terrorists want to
destabilize the whole region."
The government and its Ethiopian backers have been facing mounting
pressure from the US, European Union and United Nations over the
mounting civilian death toll and appear determined to bring order to
the city before a planned national reconciliation conference in June.
But the fighting has decimated Mogadishu, already one of the most
violent and gun-infested cities in the world. At least 18 civilians
were killed Monday, said Sudan Ali Ahmed, the chairman of the Elman
Human Rights Organization group. A 6-month-old baby was among those
wounded, said a witness, Khadija Farah.
Somalia has been mired in chaos since 1991, when warlords overthrew
dictator Mohamed Siad Barre and then turned against each other. The
western city of Baidoa, where the Somali Parliament is based, was
dubbed "City of Death" in the 1990s during a searing drought and
famine there. Mogadishu, once a stunning seaside capital, is now a
looted shantytown teeming with guns, with no functioning government or
A national government was established in 2004, but has failed to
assert any real control.
Last month, troops from neighboring Ethiopia used tanks and attack
helicopters to crush a growing insurgency linked to the Council of
Islamic Courts. The movement had controlled Mogadishu and much of the
country's south for only six months in 2006, but those were the most
peaceful months since 1991.
The group was driven from power in December by Somali and Ethiopian
soldiers, accompanied by US special forces, who have accused the group
of having ties to al-Qaida. The militants reject any secular
government, and have sworn to fight until Somalia becomes an Islamic
Meanwhile, the capital and its surrounding towns have become scenes of
ghastly despair. Women and children flee on foot with little more than
their clothes and some cooking pots, then sleep by the side of the
road. In Afgoye, about 30 kilometers (20 miles) from the capital,
fights were breaking out over a spot of shade beneath a tree.
"Everyone wants to sit in the small area under the tree," said Asha
Hassan Mohamed, a mother of seven who reached Afgoye last week but
returned to Mogadishu because she couldn't find any food.
"It's so crowded because there is no shelter."
The United Nations said the fighting had sparked the worst
humanitarian crisis in the war-ravaged country's recent history, with
many of the city's residents trapped because roads out of Mogadishu
Catherine Weibel, a spokeswoman for the U.N. refugee agency, said many
of those who haven't fled the capital are simply too vulnerable to do so.
"All the people who are sick, in wheelchairs, disabled," she said,
"they cannot leave."
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